It's really true what they say: "The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long."
At long, LONG last, SYFY WIRE can finally talk about the scenes we watched The Boys crew film during our visit to the Season 2 set up in Canada almost a year ago. During our lovely day trip to the Toronto-based soundstage, we were present for one of the biggest surprises of Episode 7 ("Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker"). As if to underscore the R-rated nature of the hit comic book series, the graffiti in the soundstage's restroom stalls bore messages like "Dirty tw**" and "Wash your hands, you f***ing neanderthal" (our personal head canon is that Karl Urban wrote them). The second one is a rather apt piece of advice, given the current health crisis.
***WARNING! The following contains spoilers for Episode 7!***
Ok, back to the filming ... We got to witness Hughie (Jack Quaid) and Lamplighter's (Shawn Ashmore) infiltration of Vought Tower, as well as the latter's death by self-immolation in The Seven conference room. The burning effect was practical, although Ashmore was not actually set on fire — that part was handled by a qualified stunt person. Sitting in the set for Madelyn Stillwell's office, SYFY WIRE (and other members of the press) watched them shoot several takes of the fiery moment, which included a number of different hilarious freakout reactions from Mr. Quaid. In between takes, we spoke with a number of cast members, including Ashmore, who helped shine a flickering light on his short-lived character.
"Lamplighter's identity, like a lot of the supers is, is based on his abilities," the actor said. "And he discovered his abilities very young. You know, he's like a prodigy, and so I think his value and his worth to his father was this thing that he had, this gift. And when everything sort of starts to fall apart for him, I think he eventually gets to a place where he can't handle it. He has a sad, tragic arc, and I think that's powerful because coming in, the audience, I think, is going to really want to hate this guy. He's done some things that make him worthy of hating. But I think as we progress, he redeems himself or finds some redemption. Whether other characters find that for him or not, I think personally, he finds some redemption."
"I’m kind of his unwitting babysitter in a way. I was supposed to watch him, I wasn’t supposed to take him here, he wasn’t supposed to help me, but Annie’s in trouble," Quaid remarked in a separate interview. "I’m not supposed to take him here and he’s just evaporating in front of my eyes and I am so f***ed ... Hughie can see the good in some of the worst people, that’s a talent he has. And I think he tries to do that with Lamplighter, even though he knows he’s not the greatest guy."
Hughie is under the misconception that they're going to rescue Annie/Starlight (Erin Moriarty), while Lamplighter — whose powers manifested at a very young age — reveals his serious daddy issues. He helps Hughie get into the Tower, but only so he can commit suicide in front of his statue. When he realizes that his effigy has been removed, he goes out in a less-than-stellar blaze of glory. To add insult to injury, Hughie desecrates the dude's burnt-up corpse by cutting off Lamplighter's hand. Still, the look of absolute heartbreak just before the Supe lights himself up came from a genuine place of emotion.
"I guess I sort of just have a soft spot for Lamplighter. I mean, I really just feel like once you peel all the layers [of] all these characters ... the most moving moment for me in the first season was when Homelander spazzes on set with the blanket ... and then it cuts back to him as a baby. It broke my heart," Ashmore said. "So I feel like there's so much humanity in that, and that's who Lamplighter is — he's this guy that's been raised on a pedestal and then just dropped to the bottom. And he's just like scrambling to survive and find an identity. I think the thing that emotionally rooted him in all of this is just his need to make his dad proud, probably the 4-year-old [version of] him that lit a fire for the first time. I think that he's constantly trying to go back to that moment. That's kind of what I was trying to use."
While Annie has little to no interaction with the ex-member of the Seven, her disillusionment with the world of Supes only gets bigger. "She’s at the point where things aren’t surprising her as much," Erin Moriarty said. "She finds out about the whole situation involving Lamplighter, which is yet another lie that everyone has been fed. But I think it fits into her whole idea and perception that she’s forming of Vought, which is that it’s just built on a foundation of lies."
While Lamplighter is now dead and without a limb, there's always a chance he could be resurrected as he was in the comics following his execution at the hands of the Boys. Vought's definitely got enough twisted science at their disposal to bring the character back as a Frankenstein-esque affront to nature.
"There's definitely more to the story, I would say that," Ashmore admitted when asked if we'd see more of his character in future seasons, be it in flashbacks or something else. "[He's] an in-depth character with a lot of history with The Seven, and we're leading up to all this stuff. I would definitely say that there would be more story to be told, if so desired."
"Anyone we’ve brought on this season is just the nicest people," Quaid said. "No one has a beef. That’s so rare for any project. The fact that I get to work with my 'family' is great, and the people who have joined in Season 2 are part of the family. Sean is from here [Toronto] originally, so he’s been showing me the ropes a little bit. ... We’re getting deeper with all the characters, but we’re also expanding the world, making it feel a little bigger, a little more lived-in. It’s not so much making room as it’s 'Welcome to the family.'"
Now that he's been a part of The Boys, however, Ashmore isn't so sure he'll ever be able to enjoy it as a pure fanboy ever again. "It's so hard to be on a show that you like, 'cause now it's kind of ruined for me, and I was telling Jack that today," he concluded. "He's like, 'Yeah, you know how the sausage is made now.' It's never going to be the same and so, it's like a blessing and a curse. I'm so excited to be a part of it. But then I'm also like, 'I'll never be able to fully step away and enjoy it the way that I did the first season.'"
So, where will the season finale go after that diabolical and bloody head-popping conclusion to Episode 7? According to Laz Alonso, who plays Mother's Milk, "there are at least three season finales."
Episodes of 1-7 of The Boys Season 2 are now streaming on Prime Video. The eighth and final installment drops next Friday (Oct. 9). Aisha Tyler (Archer) is hosting a special aftershow for all eight episodes. A third season has already been ordered, with Jensen Ackles (Supernatural) set to appear as the Captain America-esque Soldier Boy, who, according to Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito), was the result of sadistic Nazi experimentation.
For more of SYFY WIRE's set coverage of The Boys' second season, check out the stories below:
- The Boys' cast had a bloody good time shooting an exceptionally biting Season 2
- Where do The Boys go from here? Laz Alonso and Karen Fukuhara talk growth and 'soulmates' in Season 2
- Erin Moriarty explains Starlight's 'little acts of defiance' in The Boys Season 2
- Is Black Noir The Boys' version of Batman? The guy who plays him says it's not that simple
- Shedding some light on Lamplighter: A fiery primer for Shawn Ashmore's The Boys debut
- The Boys: Tomer Capon says Season 2 brings us closer to 'the real Frenchie'